Coli Outbreak Linked to Romaine Lettuce

Giant Eagle is recalling multiple items prepared with romaine lettuce after potential E. coli contamination

Giant Eagle is recalling multiple items prepared with romaine lettuce after potential E. coli contamination

Consumers should also avoid eating romaine salads in restaurants unless it can be verified that it doesn't come from Yuma, Arizona.

States that have reported people infected with the E. coli strain include Washington, Idaho, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and MI.

Yuma bills itself as the "winter lettuce capital" and hosts an annual Lettuce Festival.

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On April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement advising consumers check the origin of their romaine lettuce before purchasing.

"Consumers anywhere in the United States who have store-bought chopped romaine lettuce at home, including salads and salad mixes containing chopped romaine lettuce, should not eat it and should throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one has gotten sick", the CDC said in a statement. Numerous cases so far were contracted from salad mixes used in restaurants, but some cases have been linked to bagged romaine purchased in stores. Some people may have a low fever, less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit. About 5 to 10% of people diagnosed with this illness develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.

Fresh Food Manufacturing Co., based in Freedom, Pennsylvania, recalled 8,757 pounds of ready-to-eat salad after being notified by their lettuce supplier that it may be contaminated with E. Coli O157:H7, according to the USDA.

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The CDC, however, has said that "no grower, supplier, distributor, or brand has been identified" as the source at this time. Illnesses that began on or after March 27 may not have been counted yet.

The CDC said Friday that 35 people across 11 states have become ill from chopped romaine lettuce from Yuma. And by the end of her two weeks in the hospital, she had undergone three blood transfusions. "The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads", according to the investigation report which also noted there are no reports involving whole heads or hearts of romaine.

Over the weekend, stores such as Walmart, Sam's Club, and Giant Eagle issued recalls for romaine lettuce products, including those sold in the catering, restaurant, and salad bar areas. Twenty-two hospitalizations have occurred as a result of the outbreak, though luckily no deaths have been reported. The Produce Marketing Association, Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, United Fresh and Western Growers released a statement on the outbreak, and reassured consumers that almost all romaine lettuce now being harvested and shipped throughout the from the California growing areas.

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The current outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections from November to December 2017 linked to leafy greens consumption.

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